Effect of EMG biofeedback compared to applied relaxation training with chronic, upper extremity cumulative trauma disorders

Susan H. Spence*, Louise Sharpe, Toby Newton-John, David Champion

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    54 Citations (Scopus)


    This study examined the relative effectiveness of EMG biofeedback, applied relaxation training and a combined procedure in the management of chronic, upper extremity cumulative trauma disorder. Forty-eight patients with a history of about 5-6 years of upper extremity pain were randomly assigned to 1 of 4 treatment conditions, namely applied relaxation training, EMG biofeedback, a combined approach or a wait-list control. Treatments were conducted on an individual basis, twice per week for 4 weeks. Patients in all 3 treatment conditions showed significant short-term reductions in pain and psychopathology in comparison to the wait-list group who showed minimal change. Six-month follow-up data were obtained for patients in the treatment conditions, but not the wait-list group. There was some evidence of relapse on measures Of depression, anxiety and pain beliefs for treated patients during the 6-month follow-up period, although measures remained significantly below pre-treatment levels for most outcome indices. Self-monitored pain continued to decrease for the treatment groups through follow-up. Contrary to predictions, however, the strongest short-term treatment benefits were shown by patients receiving applied relaxation training on measures of pain, distress, interference in daily living, depression and anxiety. By 6-month follow-up, differences between treatment groups were no longer evident.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)199-206
    Number of pages8
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - 1995


    • Biofeedback
    • Cervicobrachial pain
    • Cumulative trauma disorder
    • Relaxation training
    • Repetition strain injury
    • Upper extremity pain

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